The rout in metal markets has spread to nickel at the same time as optimism over a supply crunch for the key electric vehicle component fades. Like other commodities, nickel has been hit hard by broader macroeconomic concerns triggered by the US-China trade war but also the unravelling of a bullish narrative that had helped boost prices in the early part of the year. After reaching $15,700 a tonne in June, nickel has plunged 25 per cent and is trading close to a 10-month low at $11,765 a tonne. Compounding worries for nickel bulls is the recent announcement by Tsingshan Holding Group, the Chinese company that has blazed a trail across the stainless steel industry, that it would invest $700m in a project in Indonesia to make battery-grade nickel from laterite ore. That news has dented optimism that nickel could be heading for a sustained period of tightness as car and battery makers scramble to lock down supplies of the metal. While the primary use of nickel is to make stainless steel, it also a key component in the battery packs that will power electric vehicles — and one that is forecast to become more important as carmakers switch to technologies that use more of the metal. Financial Times

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